Can a bishop or archbishop resign and return to being just a priest?


I know that once a bishop resigns (when he’s 75 and ready to retire from clerical life entirely), he gains the title of ‘emeritus’ and gets to have a residence in the diocese and live similar to a layman, but can a bishop resign and return to being a normal priest? Also, does an auxiliary bishop automatically take the place of the ordinary bishop if the ordinary dies or resigns?
Many thanks in advance,
Deus det vobis suam pacem, et vitam æternam.



In Pittsburgh, the current bishop , David Zubik, was assigned to a different diocese before getting assigned here.

His past 2 predecessors were the same. And when Wuerl and Beviliqua left, they went to bigger dioceses, the jobs there weren’t given to the auxiliaries they already had in DC and Philadelphia


A retired bishop remains a bishop, and a bishop is always a priest, and a deacon. A cleric who has been disciplined may be restricted, but that is not the case of 99% of retired clergy.

No, an auxiliary bishop does not automatically become the bishop of his see, unless he was appointed as coadjutor bishop.


Make a distinction between a personal status and a job. A bishop may be required to resign as ordinary of the diocese at age 75. He still is a bishop, can carry on sacramental ministry till he dies, with permission of the ordinary of diocese he is in


our Bishop Emeritus is always saying masses and giving out sacraments. He says now he is retired he won’t go to any meetings.

but I think thats the only thing thats different for him :slight_smile:


Retired bishops often continue to be very active in ministry, even if they no longer run a diocese. The bishop emeritus if a neighbouring diocese is now effectively acting as an auxiliary in our diocese helping with confirmations, etc.


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